Turn to Romans 12 and Luke 15
We want to become a people who strive to reach our full potential in Christ physically, spiritually and emotionally, so that we can become a church who helps others reach their full potential in Christ, physically, spiritually and emotionally. That’s the journey we should be on together, for we are called to be disciples and to make disciples.
We’ve been looking at Romans 12:1-3 over the last several weeks: that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds - and last week we touched on that we are to think correctly or soberly about ourselves - finish that this morning.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Last week we looked at four areas that can have a negative effect on our self-thinking: 1) Polytheism (outside ungodly voices and influences). 2) Pride (thinking too high of self - I can do this even without God). 3) Passivity (thinking too low of self - I can’t do this even with God), and 4) Shame and Fear (caused by sin - the belief that God can’t or won’t forgive my sin).
Thinking improperly about self has a negative effect on our ability to effectively be disciples and make disciples. So, we need a solution to our thinking problems.
But what is the solution? Is the solution to attend a Tony Robbins seminar - Unleash the Power Within? Or maybe, we do something like this - http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/daily-affirmations-ii/3506378?snl=1
How do we learn to think properly about ourselves?
The solution is not necessarily positive thinking - but rather renewed thinking.
Our minds need a new operating system, one that is not based on imperfect human philosophy, but rather founded in the perfect Word of God.
Does it make sense for the imperfect to derive their values and self-perceptions from the imperfect? Or does it make more sense for the imperfect to derive their values and self-perceptions from the perfect? We need to learn to think soberly about ourselves according to the Word of God.
John Stott wrote, “We need to know who we are, and to have an accurate, balanced and above all sober self-image.”
I agree with that statement - with one exception. We do need to know who we are, and we do need to have an accurate self-image. However, pursuing a balanced view of self can lead us on a discouraging unending journey. We’re not called to seek a balanced self-perception between pride and passivity or between Heaven and Hell.
Balance is not the goal. Was Jesus a balanced person - perfectly balanced between God and humanity? No. He was what? Fully God and fully human. That is our goal - not to become fully God, but to become fully human as God intended, by allowing Jesus through His Spirit to fully indwell us and transform us. So,
The goal is not a balanced perspective, but a Biblical perspective of self.
Therefore, we should endeavor to gain the perspective of God – to see ourselves as God does.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
God’s Word reveals a proper perspective of who we are and who we ought to be and how we ought to think of others and self. I like what I overheard Adam say last week. He was talking about one of his first times reading Romans 7 and he said, -
“This Book knows me.” ~ Adam Mockus
And if it knows us, then we would be wise to listen (Psalm 19:7-9).
Back to Romans 12:3.
Paul says, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. The key word here is (ὑπερφρονέω, hyperphroneō) or hyper-thinking. There is the sense of arrogance or pride, but it goes beyond that a little.
Hyperphroneō - to think of self beyond what is necessary.
There is a point when we’ve thought excessively of self - we’ve gone too far. It doesn’t say do not think of self. We must think of ourselves. We should not neglect taking care of ourselves, but there comes a point when we should recognize, “Hey, I’m thinking about myself too much or too inflated or exaggerated.”
A good example of this would be the Prodigal son in Luke 15. Not going to read the whole story, but if you remember, there are two sons and the younger son said to the father, “Give me my inheritance. I want it. I deserve it. I don’t want to play by the rules and wait for it. I can handle it. I don’t need you are anyone else, so give it to me now. I don’t want to be stuck here like you pathetic little farmers. I want to make something of myself, so Adios Amigos.”
He thought too excessively of himself. He thought he was all that and a bag of chips.
But if we can hyper-think, then the opposite is true as well - we can under think, which is not necessarily pointed out in Rom. 12:3, but the implication is still there. So, the prodigal son initially thought of himself up here, but then reality set in. He made a mess of his life, he squandered all his wealth - hit bottom - became homeless, penniless and senseless. It’s the all-too common story - drugs, immorality, in and out of trouble. In verse 17, Jesus said he came to his senses. For a brief moment, he faced the reality of his condition and his situation. He realized what he had done and what he had become and decided to go back home. But it was brief.
Look at verse 19. I’m going to switch to the ESV on this one.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’
He said, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son (who I am and what I’ve done disqualifies me from my father’s love. Disqualifies me from my place in the family. I am now worthless). Treat me as one of your hired servants.” “Cut me off. Treat me as if I, a son, never existed. Treat me like a lowly pathetic bottom of the barrel servant. Treat me nothing more than a commodity.”
Where do you find yourself in this story? Are you over on the too high side - “Give me what I want - what I deserve - I’m too good for you all …? Or are you over on the too low side - “I’m worthless - I’ve done too many bad things - I don’t deserve - I’m a nobody …?” Where are you on that scale?
I’ve discovered that I can be on both extremes - depending on the particular area of my life. Over here I might think too much and over there I might think too little. That can happen multiple times a day. And the temptation here might be to seek that balanced view of self - that we should strive to have a good middle perspective - to be like Goldilocks - not too hot, nor too cold but just right. But again, that’s not the goal. The goal is a solid biblical perspective of self - which only comes from one person in this story - who? The Father.
Look at verse 20:
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion (deep and great affection) for him (not a balanced view); he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Get the picture - the son had been homeless, penniless and working with pigs for who knows how long. He was dirty, stinky, unclean - he was a mess. Do you think the father saw that? Of course - he obviously wasn’t blind. But the great affection and love of the father can look past our dirty, stinky, and messy condition.
And in verse
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“… the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him (the son was now an honored guest). Put a ring on his finger (the son was now reinstated into the family and had authority to conduct business in the father’s name) and sandals on his feet (I’m not going to treat you like a servant, I’m not going to treat you based on the things you’ve done - I’m going to treat you like my son; like my daughter). The father clothed the son with undeserved honor, power and dignity - all because the father saw the potential of who he could be and should be. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son (daughter) of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment. Think of yourself with a sane, sensible, clear mind. How do we think of ourselves with a sane, sensible clear mind? We filter our thoughts about ourselves in accordance with the faith God has given us.
We filter our thoughts about ourselves through the eyes of God the Father.
So how do we do that?
If we’re going to have a proper and biblical perspective of self, we’re going to need a lot of BUTS.
Before you tar and feather me, hear me out.
The apostle Paul had a healthy view of himself. He understood who he was and what he had done, BUT, he also understood grace.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
He knew he was a sinner. He knew he was undeserving. He knew he wasn’t worthy. BUT, he filtered his life through the grace of God. He had a lot of BUTS!
What we should have a lot of BUTS in our lives? If you have received and trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior - you can say with confidence:
× I was a sinner, but now I am a saint
× I was lost, but now I am found
× I was abandoned, but now I am adopted
× I had no father, but now I am a child of God
× I was guilty and condemned, but now I am pardoned and without condemnation
× I was sinful, but now I am forgiven
× I was unlovable, but now I am loved
× I was stuck in the mire, but now my feet are on the Solid Rock
× I was a slave to sin, but now I am free in Christ
× I was dirty, but now I am clean by the blood of Jesus
× I was poor, but now I am rich with an everlasting inheritance
× I was dead, but now I am alive in Christ
× I was loser, but now I am more than a conqueror in Christ
× I was separated from God, but now I am reconciled to God
× I was weak, but now I am strong
× I couldn’t even, but now I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
× I was alone, but now I am never alone, and I will never be forsaken
× I was defenseless, but now I have God Almighty as a mighty fortress and strong tower
× I was hopeless, but now I have hope
× I was a nobody, but now I am a new creation
× I was broken, but now I am restored
× I was fearful, but now His love casts out all fear
× I was on my way to Hell, but now I am on my way to Heaven